What is the point of newspapers?

The Irish Independent says today:

Canal ‘to reopen’ after 80 years

Part of the cross-border Ulster Canal which has not been used for 80 years is to reopen, it has been revealed. […]

It says that the NI environment minister, Alex Attwood, announced that planning permission had been granted in Northern Ireland for the restoration of the Clones Sheugh and that Brian Cassells of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland expected restoration to be extended all the way to Lough Neagh, which he thought would be a good thing.

Waterways Ireland has a press release here [PDF], the Impartial Reporter covers it here, the Indo’s sister-paper the Belfast Telegraph report is here and 4ni has a brief account here.

I realise that it would be folly to expect newspapers to know anything about the subjects they write about, but shouldn’t they do something to check the press releases they’re given? A moment’s googling would have shown that “is to reopen” is, to put it mildly, an overstatement, because there can be no reopening until funding is provided. The last Irish government undertook to pay the cost but soon found that it couldn’t afford it; it and its successor have, since then, been trying to disguise the fact (and to find a crock of gold).

Of course, even if the Irish government does find the funding, spending it on a dead-end stump of a canal to Clones would be a waste of money, and there is not the slightest possibility that the canal will ever get any further. Some Clones folk, and inland boat-owners, are all in favour of it, but they’re not offering to pay for it.

But back to the newspapers. Shouldn’t they check the context, as well as the content, of press releases to ensure that the published accounts tell the full story?

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 responses to “What is the point of newspapers?

  1. Heading up north tomorrow to photograph that wonderful motorway bridge that is in the way of navigation being restored to Lough Neagh (plus other features on the bit between Clones and Charlemont). Would be nice if I could get Brian Cassells and Colin Becker sitting on the bridge parapet for the photo ;)

  2. On the substantive issue of newspapers and accuracy (or lack of), I said the following on industrialheritageireland.info – in connection with the Irish Independent: http://industrialheritageireland.info/WordPress/?p=7874

  3. Pingback: The drums, Carruthers | Irish waterways history

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